Arcus Foundation: Grants for Human Rights

OVERVIEW: The Arcus Foundation supports global rights groups that connect human rights to LGBT rights. The foundation tends to focus on regions of the world where discrimination, homophobia and abuses are among the most egregious.

IP TAKE: This is a foundation that likes to give to both small and large human rights organizations; however, LGBT rights drive its funding. Human rights-related proposals must support its LGBT mission in order to receive funding. 

PROFILE: In 2000, Jon Stryker established the Arcus Foundation, realizing how broadly he gave to NGOs "without any real goal in mind.” He established the foundation to direct his giving around LGBT rights. The Arcus Foundation supports rights groups that intersect human rights with LGBT rights. As Stryker sees it, there are regions of the world where LGBT rights are “literally life-and-death human rights issues.”

While the Arcus Foundation also supports the conservation of great apes, human rights grant seekers will want to examine its Social Justice program, which more closely aligns with the broader field of human rights. This program seeks to ensure "that individuals and families around the world of every sexual orientation and gender identity, race, and ethnicity are able to live their lives with dignity and respect, and express their love and sense of self." The program's main areas of focus are Global Religions, International Human Rights and U.S. Social Justice. 

The Global Religions program aims to increase inclusion and combat the abuse of LGBT religious freedoms in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The foundation also supports organizations fighting for the religious freedoms of LGBT people living in the Global South and in Muslim communities across the globe.

Arcus’s International Human Rights program supports organizations working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the former Eastern Europe. Main areas of grantmaking interest include policy change advocacy for more inclusive rights and recognition of gender identity; increased and improved efforts in documenting human rights abuses as they relate to gender identity; and building public officials’ capacity to advocate for nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation.

The foundation's grants typically fall between $25,000 and $150,000, though the foundation is known to give grants in amounts upward of $500,000 on occasion. To gain a broader perspective of the types of NGOs Arcus supports, take a look through its excellent grantee database. This a very approachable funder, as well, which accepts initial letters inquiry via its website.

PEOPLE: 

  • Jon Stryker, Board President and Founder
  • Annette Lanjouw, Co-Executive Director
  • Jason McGill, Co-Executive Director
  • Adrian Coman, Director, International Human Rights
  • Roz Lee, Director, Social Justice
  • Erica Lim, Program Manager, Social Justice
  • Randall Miller, Director, Global Religions 

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